In 2009, the Department will continue working on broad strategies and reaching out to better coordinate efforts with other agencies. In keeping with the goals outlined in its strategic plan; the Department continues to identify strategies to ensure the economic viability of the state's agricultural industry.
11.1 Inter-Agency Coordination
84) STRATEGY – Continue to link together the internal plans and initiatives of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Strive to consistently implement the Economic Development Strategies with the Smart Growth, Green Energy and the Agricultural Development Initiative. Continue to strengthen communication between the department, Rutgers’ School of Environmental & Biological Sciences, County Agricultural Agents, the Food Innovation Center, the Food Policy Institute, 4-H staff, the USDA personnel to improve program coordination. Continue close coordination Rutgers and the USDA with the following marketing and economic development grant programs; Rural Business Enterprise Grants, Federal-State Marketing Improvements Program grants and Specialty Crop Block Grants.
85) STRATEGY – Through the multi-agency Biofuels Action Group, establish a model for small- and medium-sized towns to become energy self-sufficient through the use of biofuels, alternative energy methods and conservation, with an emphasis on making the most of the town’s existing natural and economic characteristics and lessening the emphasis on alternative energy systems that require large sums of up-front infrastructure funding.
11.2 New Market Opportunities List
86) STRATEGY – Maintain a current list of “New Market Opportunities.” The list could be drawn from projects within the Economic Development Work Group and available to the agricultural community.
11.3 Assist in Addressing Labor Issues
87) STRATEGY - Continue the commitment to programs that support worker training, worker health and safety, and farm labor housing. Support reform of policies and procedures addressing temporary agricultural worker visas at the federal and state level. Create a listing of all training, agricultural and business development resources on the department’s website.
88) STRATEGY – To improve farm safety, work with the NJ Junior Breeder Program and the NJ Farm Bureau to develop and present the 1st Progressive Agricultural Safety Day in New Jersey in the spring of 2008.
11.4 Training and Workplace Development
89) STRATEGY – In conjunction with the Department’s Agricultural Development Initiative, use Specialty Crop Block grant funds to continue to implement an entrepreneurial and executive training and development program to provide training for growers and mid-level farm management. To increase the success rate of agricultural businesses training will assist in the utilization of personal computers, proper maintenance of power machinery used in agricultural operations, business marketing and communications and bi-lingual technical language training.
11.5 Farmland Assessment and Crop Insurance and Technical Assistance
90) STRATEGY – Provide support, policy analysis, and information on farmland assessment to the Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee, the Director of Taxation’s Farmland Assessment Committee, agricultural organizations, municipal tax assessors and to landowners. Update the document – New Jersey’s Farmland Assessment Act – A Primer on Basic Requirements. Create documents to help farmers in filling out the applications for Farmland Assessment and for providing guidance to tax assessors in determining eligibility.
91) STRATEGY - Implement the New Jersey Crop Insurance Education Initiative in partnership with the Risk Management Agency USDA and Rutgers Cooperative Extension to improve the financial health of all farmers, increase their skill and knowledge in using crop insurance, and to increase crop insurance participation as additional products and programs become available.
92) STRATEGY- Actively assist farmers as an advocate with issues related to agricultural production, taxation, regulations, economic development, value-added opportunities as well as a variety of other matters that impact the long-term viability of New Jersey agriculture.
93) STRATEGY – Provide technical assistance to farmers, architects, engineers, farm building consultants and agricultural contractors concerning the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs as it relates to farm buildings.
94) STRATEGY - Assist farmers with interpreting the Real Property Appraisal Manual, Farm Building Section with changes in construction techniques and building materials as well as building specifications and cost schedules. Provide information on calculating replacement costs and accrued depreciation.
95) STRATEGY – Increase participation in New Jersey’s agricultural plastics recycling programs and assess the feasibility of expanding the program to include other materials generated by farmers and aqua culturists. Assist the State’s food processing industry in finding markets or utilization for soon-to-expire and expired food products and work closely with other agencies in matters that require creative recycling solutions for non-traditional materials.
96) STRATEGY – Provide farmers and agribusinesses with information about the requirements concerning motor vehicle regulations and license plates for farm vehicles, requirements for the International Registration Plan, the International Fuel Tax Agreement, and commercial drivers license provisions. The Department will identify federal and state motor vehicle laws and regulations that impact interstate and intrastate of agricultural commodities and distribute information to continue the orderly transportation of New Jersey farm products. Continue to update a user friendly website providing the necessary information about the motor vehicle registrations, fuel taxes and commercial driver licenses in an easily understood format.
97) STRATEGY – Disseminate information and respond to inquiries on the availability of financing from federal, state, and commercial lending institutions for agricultural loans. Advise individuals on the importance of developing business plans, maintaining financial records, and
11.6 Improve Roadside Signage
98) STRATEGY – Working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the League of Municipalities and the Legislature continue to advocate a statewide standard for directional signage on New Jersey’s roadways to heighten consumer awareness and provide a more visible marketing profile for the industry. Seek industry specific exemptions and changes in existing signage regulations to increase signage opportunities.
11.7 New and Beginning Farmers
99) STRATEGY – Seek Farm Bill funding for new and beginning farmers, and use all resources and programs for welcoming new people into the agricultural industry. Storngly promote these strategies for attracting new and young farmers through the New Jersey FFA.
11.8 Export Development
Through the Department’s membership in Food Export USA, continue to provide export development services to over six hundred food and agricultural companies in the Northeast United States.
100) STRATEGY – Work with New Jersey based exporters of food products to secure a minimum of $1.6 million in matched promotional grant funding from the USDA Market Access program for at least twenty-five New Jersey companies. Provide export education and promote the federally funded export market research and development programs of Food Export USA – Northeast to New Jersey’s fresh and processed food industries. Secure federal grant funding for an export development intern position responsible for programs of export education and export program promotion. Seek the development of export markets including an effort to coordinate a buyers mission from the Caribbean Basin and South and Central American markets.